The “queen of mean” returns to Las Vegas, bringing her brand of racially-charged insult comedy to the Vegas stage. As a part of the “Lipshtick- The Perfect Shade of Standup” comedy show at The Venetian, Lisa Lampanelli is just one of the many female comedians set to perform in this year’s run. Packed with laughs induced from A-list comedians including Whitney Cummings, Jennifer Coolidge and Garfunkel and Oates, this one-of-a-kind comedy series is in full swing delivering laughs to Sin City.
With her “Lipshtick” performance coming up this weekend, we chatted with the hilarious Lisa Lampanelli (who, despite her on-stage persona, is actually very nice) about her role as a comedian, her experience with “Lipshtick” and a little bit of inside info on her life in and out of the spotlight.
Q and A with Lipshtick’s Lisa Lampanelli
Q: Tell us a little bit about the Lipshtick comedy series.
A: Basically, I think people have finally started to realize that women can be funny because we have so many good ones now, especially the younger ones like Whitney Cummings and Amy Schumer, and just people who sort of came on the scene and go wow! You know, it’s not only Lisa Lampanelli and Sarah Silverman and people like that so there is enough women out there to have a really good headlining show once a week in Vegas. So every week they have a different female headliner and it’s been going really well because I think even men are starting to say, ‘Oh, OK wow. She might not look like a conventional comedian but she is still really funny.’ So it’s been killin’ it.
Q: Is this your first time performing in Lipshtick?
A: No, I’ve done three weekends and now I have so far February, April and June so it’s pretty much every couple of months I go out there for a day or two.
Q: What has your past experience been with Lipshtick?
A: What I like is that it’s not just a female audience at all. Like most of my fan base is men and I kind of loved that more men are giving us the chance so I’ve found they are like my typical audience, which is a bunch of mixed different ethnicities, different races, different sexes and sexual preferences, and folks who are out there and just really laugh. I’ve had a lot of luck with the show… I’ve been enjoying myself.
Q: What inspires you as a comedian?
A: Years ago they had these things when I was a kid called Dean Martin Roasts on TV on I believe NBC and my parents and I used to watch them and everyone like Don Rickles and Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart and Lucille Ball and all these people did these roasts and they all looked like friends and I thought that looked like so much fun, but I think that was planted in my head years ago and even though I didn’t try comedy until I was thirty I go, I like that five people being in on the joke and everybody getting along so I think that’s why I gravitated toward like insult-style comedy and why I started doing roasts on TV.
Q: How do you write your jokes?
A: On stage. I’m 100 percent on stage. Like if I go up and something that day happened that made me mad or made me laugh or tickled me or something, I go up and I just talk about it and I tape record it, listen to it, figure out if it’s something funny enough to keep and then punch it up. But, nothing for me ever starts at a computer. It always starts with me on stage ranting about something.
Q: Queen of Mean? Do you ever feel bad about jokes that you say?
A: Oh never! I mean I am so good at it that I started this so late in life that I know if someone isn’t having a good time, I will sort of jump on somebody else and be like oh yeah this guy isn’t comfortable with jokes so let me move onto somebody else. The whole thing is being a seasoned pro you kind of get to figure out easily who likes to be included and who doesn’t. So basically you say it to a couple guys in the front, you joke to them about being gay and they’re two straight guys who are really repressed or something, you just go hey, you know what? They aren’t comfortable, if they aren’t comfortable, the audience isn’t so I just like make fun of somebody else. So it’s not about making people miserable and that’s why people ask to sit up front. That’s why I get tons of emails every week going, ‘Oh could I have front row tickets? I want you to make fun of me!” They feel like celebrities. I feel that way! Don Rickles, when I went to see him I was like ohmigod, I pray he makes fun of me! Have you ever noticed that when we’re with our real friends we all joke on each other and we make fun of each other but when you’re with somebody you don’t like you don’t even go there? That’s pretty much what it’s like.
Q: What do you like most about performing in Las Vegas and more specifically the Lipshtick Series?
A: I’m not a gambler, I’m not a fun person, I’m 53 years old, I can’t even be bothered because I’m just not fun. I perform; performance is pretty much my life at this point. Personally, if I can spend a day at the Canyon Ranch Spa, ohmigod, I love the Canyon Ranch Spa in the Venetian because I’m just a Canyon Ranch girl, and they can take care of me for the day and I can just chill and feel like I’m really awake and alive and happy for my shows, I’m happy. I also like to have dinner out with friends all of the time. I am really good friends with Pen Jillette and his wife and we go to this place in the Venetian called Carnevino, which is a thick, thick Italian restaurant and I’m a creature of habit so those are the things I like to do when I’m there and once every couple of months, I’m like, ‘OK, that was fun.’
Q: What can fans expect of your show?
A: Well, I mean, if they are really secure individuals, they should probably sit up front and enjoy being involved. If they are really insecure individuals they probably shouldn’t, they should sit in the back. I do a lot of stories about myself, I talk a lot about the audience, and you know roasting-type jokes and insults and if they like that type of humor, then great! And you’ve got to have some good self-esteem if you want to be at one of my shows, you’ve gotta have a thick skin.
Q: Who is your comedic idol?
A: My idol in my whole life is Howard Stern because I feel like Howard is such a great individual, such a great charitable individual, such a truthful guy on the radio. I always was inspired to tell the truth in my act because he told the truth on the radio all of the time. So Howard has been like my comedic and just kind of life role model for years and yeah, there’s nobody better.
Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
A: I love being saucy but I’m actually overly sensitive and I find it really difficult to be mean to people and that’s why I do it for a living because that’s what I get paid for. It’s like I like to have this job, but I find it like really, in my real life, I’m overly nice so I think I’m overly nice in real life to compensate for my meanness on stage. So it works out for everybody because in real life it’s like everybody’s shocked that I am how I am and on stage they are like, ‘OK, she’s getting it all out here,’ so it’s kind of like a double personality. Basically, I’m kind of bipolar that way.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: You should come out because honestly it is such a great show. I have a gay guy named Luke who opens for me and he is just hysterical. I do an hour and a half show that basically is stuff that has never been on TV before and it’s actually really cool because it’s good to see something that’s never been on television, you feel like you’re really getting your money’s worth. So come on out and have a good time!